THE Aquino administration is focused on improving the transportation and logistics systems in Mindanao.
“The goal: to see a Mindanao economy no longer stifled by a lack of proper roads, ports, or airports,” President Benigno Simeon Aquino III said in his speech at the opening of the three-day 22nd Mindanao Business Conference in Davao City on Aug. 8.
Aquino said that being the agricultural basin of the Philippines, Mindanao has bountiful harvests that “will only be useful to the producers and consumers both if products can get to the markets in a timely manner.”
He said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has allocated P61.54 billion for roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects in Mindanao for 2011-2014.
For 2014 alone, the President said, the government is proposing to Congress the allocation of another P34.29 billion for projects in the southernmost region, more than half of what had been budgeted in the last three years.
In his presentation, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said the DPWH had begun works on roads in Basilan, Lake Lanao, Cotabato City, Maguindanao and on bridges in Tawi-Tawi.
The President also boasted that the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) are in the process of constructing or rehabilitating 15 airports and 46 ports in the region, excluding the Laguindingan Airport that started operations on June 15.
Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, in his presentation, said the DOTC is proposing P10 billion for the modernization and privatization of Sasa Wharf in Davao to accommodate increasing cargo traffic in the port.
The proposed cost has yet to be approved by the National Economic and Development Authority and is subject to a public-private partnership arrangement.
The agency is also proposing the development of a P56.5-billion Central Spine RoRo (roll-on/roll-off) project.
The project will involve construction and integration of a transportation system combining RoRo ferry ports and toll roads to form a Manila-Panay-Negros-Cebu-Bohol-Northern Mindanao route that will cut down travel time from Manila to Mindanao to about 20 hours.
Also, the agency is seeking to enhance maritime activity with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries.
The ASEAN RoRo initiative will create a route between General Santos and Bitung, Indonesia, with the possible inclusion of Davao via a private port in Lanang.
Meanwhile, the DOTC and CAAP will rehabilitate 15 airports in the region – these are Dipolog Airport, Pagadian Airport, Zamboanga International Airport, Camiguin Airport, Cagayan de Oro Airport, Ozamis Airport, Davao International Airport General Santos Airport, Butuan Airport, Siargao Airport, Surigao Airport, Jolo Airport, Sanga-Sanga Airport, Cotabato Airport, and M’lang Airport.
The PPA and DOTC will undertake 46 port projects in Mindanao. These will include eight ports in the Zamboanga Peninsula, nine in Northern Mindanao, five in the Davao region (including Sasa Wharf), five ports in SOCCKSARGEN (Southern Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani and General Santos), 16 in CARAGA region (Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands) and two ports in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
Abaya also cited the completion of the Laguindingan International Airport, the improvement of Davao International Airport, the night-flight capability rating of Dipolog Airport, Ozamis Airport and Cotabato Airport, and the P46.5-million funding for the Maritime Industry Authority to monitor and assess maritime training and educational institutions nationwide in preparation for the upcoming European Maritime Safety Agency accreditation audit. –Roumina M. Pablo
Image courtesy of bplanet /FreeDigitalPhotos.net